I was in Wisconsin last weekend, which meant two things: I was going to eat great cheese and make sure I had some Spotted Cow. Spotted Cow is made by the New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wis., and epitomizes a conundrum with the craft beer world. On one hand, New Galrus can’t be found outside the state of Wisconsin, which is unfortunate because they make some great products. On the other hand, its rareness adds to it’s mystique. When going to Wisconsin you look forward to having it as one of the main perks of a trip. It’s not uncommon to stock up before crossing back over the border. Because it can’t be found everywhere, New Glarus beers (and Spotted Cow in particular), is put on a pedestal and idealized and made that much better in your mind. Luckily for me, the wedding I was at had a keg of Spotted Cow at the reception and four New Glarus beers to select from at the rehearsal dinner. Not only did the bride and groom have good taste, but they were smart to anticipate the craving people have for Spotted Cow. Spotted Cow is one of my favorite beers, and last weekend I focused on it and New Glarus’ summer seasonal, Totally Naked. Both were excellent and I’m already looking forward to my next visit to Wisconsin.
As I already said, Spotted Cow is one of my favorite beers. Last weekend I was able to try it the best way possible, straight from a fresh tap, and it never tasted better. In reality, Spotted Cow is a simple beer, yet offers so much to savor. It is a cream ale that is mild on malt and hops, with no strong, predominant flavor. It is sweet, but not wheaty or fruity, and gets it’s subtle sweetness from corn that is used in the brewing process. At first it’s tough to put your finger on, but after thinking about it, corn is what comes to mind. It seems an odd ingredient, but Spotted Cow utilizes it perfectly. The corn combines with what malt is present and yields a smooth, creamy and refreshing lighter ale. It has a very light mouthfeel throughout the entire sip. The flavor never changes and is consistently delicious the entire time. At times it feels like you’re drinking water, not in a gross light beer way, but in a completely refreshing, light drink that doesn’t weigh you down and keeps you wanting more. In this aspect, Spotted Cow is perfect. It is light enough for any occasion yet full of flavor, always keeps you thirsting for another and is incredible easy to drink.
After much thought, I decided I have to give Spotted Cow a 9 out of 10. I thought about giving it a perfect score, but I’ll have to try it again to be sure. Obviously, though, I’m OK with that. I do know, however, that I’ll never want to have it out of a bottle if I can avoid it. It was better on tap, as all beers are, but after my recent fabulous experience, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back.
This summer seasonal is a simple, plain beer, but is very good at it. It’s a lager that has every characteristic lagers should: clean, crisp, light mouthfeel, golden in color and refreshing. Totally Naked is very easy to drink and, most importantly, doesn’t become bland after a few like some plain beers can. In fact, I can’t describe any notable flavor, it just tastes like a beer. This is perfect if you want to quench your thirst. It’s light and will satisfy you with one or many more over the course of a night. To me, Totally Naked is what American light beers should be. It doesn’t fill you up, it doesn’t compromise taste and is completely refreshing. Although Totally Naked doesn’t bring any complex flavors or try something interesting, I gave it a high rating because it’s a great lighter beer with great drinkability. Sometimes that’s what you’re looking for, and Totally Naked does a great job with it.